Monday, November 18, 2013

University Unmasked: 12 - You Got Good Grades; What Shall We Do With This Problem?

The other day I was talking to a guy who sits next to me in one of my classes. We were discussing the validity of skipping class when he began to tell me about a particular class he was taking. He said he hadn’t been going to the class for weeks because everything taught was stupid. Regardless of not attending, he still had an “A” in the class. However, despite his high performance on graded material, he was approached by the professor.

“What are we going to do about you and this class?” his instructor asked him. He said he was confused by the question because he was doing so well. That’s when the instructor told him that because he missed so much class time he might fail the class.

“But I have an ‘A’.” the student objected. The professor replied by basically saying he was an easy grader, so the student’s high performance didn’t count. Talk about a blanket sweep.
I felt like sharing this story because I think it accurately reveals a major flaw with the school system.

Class-time doesn’t equal proficiency. Indeed, many times classroom instruction is a huge waste of time. For example, my math lecture. Many students have stopped going to lecture all-together, including myself. Why? Because the lecture is completely worthless. It doesn’t address the difficulty level of what’s in the homework and on the exams. The professor, who lectures by working through example math problems, (which are displayed on a large screen) has handwriting that is barely legible. Many times he will also make blatant (and sometimes not so blatant) mistakes, which serves to confuse half the students and we have to back-track. Other-times he has accidentally sabotaged the software program. It then takes him several minutes to correct the error, a further waste of time.

Rather than attending this lecture, I’ve been better off using that time to study and figure out how to do the problems on my own. Apparently this is the case for my classmate who had an ‘A’ in his class despite not attending, and yet, now he may fail. I guess it’s not good enough merely to get good grades; you have to get the good grades their way. 


  1. I'm afraid I'm with the prof on this one.
    Learning good work habits is an important part of university - and when you get in the work force, you won't be skipping meetings (I hope) because your boss is dumb - even if he or she is ; ) Because - BTDT - he or she probably WILL be (at least once in your adult life)

    I've heard from employers that one of their biggest problems with homeschooled employees is that they have trouble keeping at work tasks when their co-workers are incompetent or inefficient. University is great practice for that. As the Body of Christ, we have to keep working even if one member is sick. I say this as an avid homeschooler - not to dis homeschooling, but to say that we all still have our areas for growth.

    Additionally, I have had professors tell me that students who start skipping classes because they think they can do well enough on their own frequently end up failing or dropping out. You may not be one of those, but you could be setting an example for someone else who will be.

    But, most importantly, the Bible says we should be subject to those in authority over us (and, not just the smart ones!). If the professor expects you to attend, and his request does not violate a command of God, being obedient is hugely Spiritually beneficial.

    Sorry to disagree -and I mean no disrespect - I love your posts - but I wouldn't be a very good Christian if I just was "supportive" even when I thought someone was making a mistake.

  2. Thanks for the comment! I welcome criticism and opposing viewpoints, as long as they are expressed intelligently and courteously, as you have done.

    I completely agree with you that good work habits are very important to establish in life. However, one does not need university to establish good work habits.

    I've also believe that time is precious, and have been taught that I shouldn't let anyone else dictate what I do with my time. Everyday we have to decide how we'll spend our time, and where we'll invest it. I'm not going to waste my time going to a lecture that is just going to confuse me. I've actually gotten better grades since I've stopped attending by studying on my own. There is a plethora of math help and websites online which have helped me. I've also found that just struggling through the practice problems on my own helps me discover what works and what doesn't.

    College and work are two different things. The major difference is at a job, you're being paid to do something or to be somewhere. At College, YOU are the one paying. You're paying to receive a service and knowledge. If you buy something from the store that is defective, do you continue to try and use it? Or do you take it back and ask for one that works?

    I have not heard about that problem with homeschoolers, but that issue sounds more like a problem of pride or impatience than a result of not attending classes.

    When you look at the most successful people today, or in the past, they didn't have college degrees, or if they did, their performance in school was lackluster. I definitely do not support laziness, but I do not support doing what everyone else does just because everyone does it. Most of the time, it is beneficial to go to class. I have perfect attendance this year for all of my classes, except for my math class. I believe in results over seat-time.

    I also don't believe my professors are in a position of authority over me. I'm paying them, not the other way around. When you think about it, they work for me. They wouldn't have a job if students suddenly decided to stop going to college. I definitely believe we should treat professors with respect, but I also have a responsibility to get good grades to save money and to get a good job.

    Also, as they say in the business world, "Time is money." I only have so much time, and I have to decide where to spend it. I decided that math lecture was not a good investment.

    I don't believe this to be wrong, morally or practically. The only way it could be wrong is if going to lecture would be beneficial, and not going harmed my development. However, as things stand, not going has actually been beneficial.

  3. You do make a good point that if attendance was required and impacted my grade, then it would be foolish not to attend. However, attendance is not required for my math, and doesn't effect my grade.